Homeland Security: What’s New

Homeland Security

Brock Hulse

With today’s political climate, it is hard to keep up with everything that happens day to day, week to week. From healthcare to immigration, changes just seem to be coming left and right. Trying to keep up with what is coming out of the White House is hard enough just as is, let alone waking to your 3AM alarm to check twitter and see what’s on the President’s (also known as Ratings Machine DJT) mind.

It may seem like it was over a decade ago, but less than five years ago it was revealed through multiple news outlets using top-secret documents collected by Edward Snowden that the United States government was spying on it’s own citizens. Snowden collected the documents from April 2012 until May 2013 while contracted with the United States National Security Agency (NSA). 

While the bulk of the spying on US citizens had been done through that of phone calls, emails, text messages, and online chat transcripts, it also revealed records of the NSA and the other espionage organizations the NSA was working with recognized how quickly smartphones were growing in both use and importance, as well as the quickly growing impact of social media. Now remember, all of this data was collected by Snowden only as recent as May 2013, giving the NSA and other espionage organizations almost five years of time since the leak to perfect such data collecting tactics.

Now we arrive at the present day. Effective starting October 18 (yesterday), the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) newest policy update goes into effect. This new policy update mainly focuses on social media, with two glaringly large factors that we here at BD feel you should know.

1. The scope of who the policy affects

This newest policy gives the DHS the ability to collect this social media information not only on those coming to the country for a limited amount of time, but also those who are lawful permanent residents of the US and those who have become naturalized citizens after June 2012. This also includes anyone who is to interact on social media with someone the DHS is currently investigating. This means that even for the Beavers who have never set foot outside of Oregon, you too could easily have a file filled with information on all of your social media activity due to the couple of times you liked a post on Facebook by someone who the DHS was currently investigating.

2. The scope of what information the policy allows the DHS to collect legally

The amount of information the DHS is allowed to collect and keep on individuals legally is quite disturbing. Among the information the DHS is allowed to collect are social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and most worrying, search results and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements. What this means is that for anyone who is even slightly related to any sort of immigration investigation the DHS currently has may have their social media search results as well as any information provided by companies the DHS has information sharing agreements with; for example, Google or Facebook, collected and filed. All of which is legal.

The policy was published by the DHS Privacy Office in the Federal Register and can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/09/18/2017-19365/privacy-act-of-1974-system-of-records

Stay safe and secure Beavs.


Photography by Jenna Day (via unsplash.com)



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